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England receive a Six Nations triple boost

By Paul Smith
(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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England’s Six Nations hopes have received a massive boost with the news that Owen Farrell is expected to resume club action in late January.

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And head coach Eddie Jones’ prospects of lifting the title have been further enhanced by upbeat fitness updates regarding experienced British & Irish Lions pair Manu Tuilagi and Jamie George.

The three England stars all suffered Autumn Series injuries serious enough to cast doubt on their availability for their country’s opener against Scotland at Murrayfield on February 5th.

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After leaving the field during England’s mid-November win over Australia with an ankle injury Farrell was initially reported to face “at least two months” on the sidelines.

But Saracens’ director of rugby Mark McCall has this week provided a promising update on the fly-half’s condition which advised: “Owen is a few weeks away. He will be back towards the end of January – it should be before the Six Nations.”

Powerhouse centre Tuilagi is also now reported to be ready for a January return.

The former Leicester star lasted just eight minutes of his country’s 27-26 triumph against South Africa before suffering a grade three hamstring tear which was initially expected to rule him out of the Six Nations.

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In delivering this positive update, his Sale Sharks boss Alex Sanderson said: “We have talked about him for the Leicester game before the Six Nations [on January 30].

“That is obviously a big game for him, but we’re hoping to get him back a week or two before that.”

These two developments will again set the debate regarding the composition of England’s midfield raging since Farrell and Tuilagi face competition from Exeter’s Henry Slade and Harlequins’ in-form Marcus Smith whose club mate Joe Marchant also impressed during the Autumn Series.

The Daily Mail has also reported that hooker George has recovered from his knee injury and is set to resume Gallagher Premiership action when Sarries make the short trip up the M1 to face Northampton on Sunday.

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Given the impact made by Leicester’s Nic Dolly and Newcastle hooker Jamie Blamire – who now has six tries from five tests – during the Autumn Series, 31-year-old George will be especially keen to make an impact for his club ahead of Jones’ squad announcement.

George was initially left out of Jones’ Autumn squad and only returned after Exeter Chiefs star Luke Cowan-Dickie – who also edged ahead of him on the Lions tour last summer – was deemed unfit to feature.

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